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10 Budget-Friendly Exercise Gadgets

Tight budgets are no excuse to let yourself get flabby.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Tight budgets are no excuse to let yourself get flabby. Sure, a pricey gym membership may be something you don’t want to spring for right now. And home exercise equipment with all the bells and whistles may be out of the question. Luckily, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to exercise. Some won’t even cost you a thin dime.

WebMD turned to three respected exercise experts: Steven Blair, PhD, at the University of South Carolina, Jennifer Huberty, PhD, at the University of Nebraska, and Andrea Dunn, PhD, at Klein Buendal in Colorado. Here’s what they recommend:

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Jump Rope

It may be child’s play, but jumping rope offers an unusually complete workout. It improves aerobic fitness at the same time that it strengthens legs, buttocks, arms, and shoulders. No wonder many boxers, wrestlers, and other athletes use jump ropes to train. Jump ropes are easy to pack. Basic jump rope: under $10.

Resistance Bands

They’re cheap, portable, and can be used to give virtually every muscle in your body an intense workout. A vigorous workout also burns calories, which can help with weight loss. A good set of bands starts at about $10. Most come with a basic set of instructions.

Pedometer

Having trouble motivating yourself to take a brisk walk every day? Studies show that step counters, or pedometers, help inspire people to be more active. Many versions are available, from basic ones that simply tally up steps to fancier models you can hook up to your computer to keep track of your progress over time. Basic step counter: $20 to $30.

Hand Weights

A pair of hand weights -- also known as dumbbells -- offers a great upper-body strengthening workout. Another option: use everyday weighted objects you can easily grasp in each hand, such as a water bottle, socks filled with dried beans or sand, or a bag of rice. Basic hand weights: $15.

Yoga Mat

If you do yoga at home, you probably already own one. Even if yoga isn’t your thing, mats still come in handy for doing basic calisthenics such as sit-ups, push-ups, deep knee bends, and other exercises that use body weight -- and gravity -- to strengthen muscles. Jogging in place or doing jumping jacks add aerobics to your routine and burn calories. (For example, 10 minutes of vigorous jumping jacks burns about 100 calories, assuming a body weight of about 155 pounds.) Yoga mat: $15-$20.

Medicine Ball

About the size of basketballs, medicine balls are weighted and can be used to add intensity to a basic set of floor exercises. You can squeeze a medicine ball between your knees while doing reverse curls to strengthen abdominals, for example, or hold it above your head while doing lateral flexes to tighten up oblique muscles. Most come with instructions for a set of basic exercises. Medicine ball: About $20.

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